Yesterday, a friend sent a group text to about a dozen people expressing his political concerns. I love this friend…but I sent a private message back to him stating that I would be more than happy to talk with him one-on-one, but I felt group texts of his sociopolitical opinions were an imposition. More important, I challenged him to go and make a difference rather than rant about the situation.

Following the recent devastating hurricanes and earthquakes, there are entire cities and countries that have been completely demolished. The island of Puerto Rico is without power, food, clean water and fuel. It’s horrible.

And yet, the news for the past several days has been dominated by the debate of how football players behave during the playing of our national anthem. Is the NFL really where we want to spend our time and energy? I don’t think so.

I believe that people have more power over their lives and living the lives that they want than they give themselves credit for. This relates to every aspect of our lives—career, relationships, health, money. Ultimately, we can choose for ourselves, and we can make choices that either help us or hurt us. Recently, far too many people on all sides of the aisle are making choices that are destructive to themselves and society. Pointing fingers and laying blame simply create noise. Knees, tweets and removing statues does nothing productive for our society’s future.

In the face of all this political and societal division, I believe it is time for individuals to use their power to create a positive impact in all our lives. I am not talking about rallies or demonstrations. I am talking about actually doing something in an area where you can have a direct impact.

There is a concept in the geopolitical world called sphere of influence in which a country has power over another area or country even though it doesn’t have formal authority. We can shift that concept to apply to individuals as well.

Venn Diagram

Imagine for a minute those Geometry 101 Venn-Diagrams in which circles intersected with one another. For the purposes of this blog, these two circles represent a person’s sphere of influence—each circle is a different person and the sphere that they influence. Notice how the circles overlap? That’s because all our spheres intersect and overlap with the others.

With all the angst in the world and so many people focusing on the political environment, I have been encouraging people to look at their spheres of influence—friends, family, coworkers, religious congregations, clubs—to determine where they can make a positive impact with their words or actions.  Stop being distracted by the “noise” in the world, and instead focus on where you can make a direct difference. My theory is that if each individual sends out positive messaging and actions each day within his/her spheres, the messages would all overlap and create a carpet of good rather than a patchwork of anger.

I am not talking about spending days in soup kitchens, filling tractor trailers for hurricane victims or disingenuously being Sally Sunshine. Rather, it’s all about focus and what you do or don’t want to be distracted by in your sphere of influence. If your goal is to have a loving relationship with your spouse or to be successful at your job or to connect with friends each day, then do that. Kiss your spouse. Focus on your next project.  Make a date with friends.

Being distracted by negative messaging in the media or posting your own “complaints” is counterproductive. Parents have been guiding children for years not to be sucked into a school-yard brawl with a bully. Well, don’t be sucked into a social-media brawl with a loudmouth.

The anger of the 1960s and 1970s gave rise to a social movement and music that focused on messages of love. Who didn’t love Coca-Cola teaching the world to sing and Jackie DeShannon imploring the world to love? Yet somehow today’s social messaging seems stuck in anger. Making love not war definitely feels so much better for the human body and psyche.

You have the power to choose your actions and your reactions. Love heals and strengthens. Anger destroys both you and our culture.

Your choice. How do you want to live? What difference do you want to make?

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